The 76ers playoff bench is the best it has ever been
Finally! After what has seemed like an eternity, the 76ers are finally practicing again down in the Disney World bubble. We are currently 3 weeks away from their first game on August 1st against the Indiana Pacers. Looking back at this roster compared to the last few appearances, one thing has stood out: sustainably.
2018 we witnessed the rise of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. 2019 was easily the most star-studded roster with the addition of Jimmy Butler. However, neither even sniffed the amount of depth that this 76ers team has currently. While they aren’t as deep as a team like the Clippers, they still have a bunch of guys who can play any role needed and that is incredibly crucial.
Long gone are the days of having to throw Greg Monroe onto the court to get run all over by Toronto. While it’s very likely the team runs around 9 players during any given game they have about 11-12 guys to rely on if help is needed, which is especially important for different matchups or a potential of injury.
Versatility is the keyword when talking about what this bench can do in the playoffs. In all honesty, at first, I was against Shake Milton starting due to his lack of experience in the starting rotation. This is something we’ve discussed on Process to Progress. Harrison really drove the point home that Shake Milton is a better fit than Al Horford in the starting lineup, and he‘s right.
I never doubted his talent as he has grown tremendously as what I think is the best value contract in the league. Shake is making $1.5 Million for the next 4 years (thank you Elton Brand) and I don’t think it gets talked about enough. So while you lose a guard off the bench you add the best backup center in basketball.
Shake Milton put the league on notice today 🗣
39 points and 7 threes. Unreal. pic.twitter.com/p2REL8qDWI
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 1, 2020
Moving Shake up means the 76ers now have a premier backup Center in Al Horford. After a long rest and rumored injuries, Al is now reportedly healthy. I think he returns back to his early-season self and provides what he was intended for with the Sixers. His contract is terrible, I’m not denying that. But for the short-term return to play, he fills a crucial role in terms of a guy who can come in for Joel and give him a breather or for long periods due to possible foul trouble. Going from Amir Johnson, to Monroe and Boban, to Horford is a significant upgrade and will be the key piece off that bench.
Looking past the Center spot there still is much-improved depth across the board. Ball handlers have been a major need depending on how Ben is played by other teams in the playoffs. In 2018 they had to take him out against Boston for T.J McConnell for spacing. Granted, I don’t think this happens again but if a scenario like this were to come up or even if they need a scoring spark off the bench or to attack a part of their opponent’s game plan they are ready. Losing Shake to the starting 5 is obviously a blow to that but you could see him also run with bench guys in other rotations as the point guard. Also, Horford would likely take his spot in a Milwaukee series. But outside of Shake you also have Alec Burks who has proven to be a guy that can handle his role.
Acquired with Glenn Robinson in an absolute steal from Golden State for 2 2nds, Burks has given not so great stats but has improved as his time went on. Burks is likely to be the 3rd PG in the rotation but the first off the bench. There is a small chance we see Brett Brown’s favorite Raul Neto as well. Raul is okay at best but fits well into Brett’s system so again he could be seen depending on the matchup but I would doubt it.
Alec Burks with a FANTASTIC FINISH 🙌 plus the foul pic.twitter.com/1UAmoDBEba
— ClutchPoints NBA (@ClutchPointsNBA) February 21, 2020
Probably the deepest part of the bench is the wings. There are so many options for what the Sixers want to use to match up with other teams or create advantages. The guys likely to compete for minutes (in no order) are Matisse Thybulle, Furkan Korkmaz, and Glenn Robinson. With Burks and Horford likely securing 2 of the bench spots there are 3 guys going up for the last 2. I could see all 3 playing in different games or series. I think Furkan is also a main lock for the bench as he has been the team’s best shooter this season and will need that scoring off the bench. So really it is Matisse and GR3 going for the last spot.
I’m going to say it straight up: I don’t care what the Hive thinks. Mike Scott is not a good NBA player. He is not a good defender and takes horrible shots and rarely goes on a hot streak. Mike Scott in the 2019 playoffs was okay but giving him the MLE over someone else was a horrible mistake. You may love the person, but his stats and film do not lie. So unless Mike Scott turns back into that player I don’t want him anywhere near the court.
That last spot is really going to depend on who the team you’re going up against. If you need a guy off the bench to play lockdown defense and you aren’t as worried about scoring then Matisse is your guy easily. But if you need to get back into the game or want to take advantage of a bad defensive wing then GR3 is your guy. I think both will get ample time off the bench the rest of the season but I think GR3 gets the nod if I had to choose for his scoring and still having solid defensive ability. I love Matisse and think he’s going to be an absolute defensive stud in the NBA for a while but the playoffs aren’t exactly the best place for a rookie, especially one who is still growing on offense.
Overall, it’s likely to see both Glenn and Matisse in the playoffs.
Matisse Thybulle starting tonight
3 blocks and a steal already 👍🏼
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) January 16, 2020
The more and more I look at this team the more excited I become. You have a healthy Ben, Joel, and Horford. Tobias Harris doing exactly what is needed of him and being the person hopefully gluing this locker room back together from chaos earlier this year. Pair that with Josh Richardson who constantly gives it his all and the deepest bench we have ever seen from this team.
Joel Embiid is healthy and in shape absolutely ready to eat Giannis and Siakam alive on his way to the finals. Whenever this squad went up against the Clippers, Lakers, or Milwaukee when healthy they took care of them like it was no issue.
Brett Brown said it best when this team was built for the playoffs. The 76ers are ready, and they’re coming for the Larry O’Brien.